It’s the last week of October, AND today is Halloween, which means one thing for film fans: it’s time to binge on horror classics.
As I was able to attend the 2019 Louder than Life music festival in Louisville, Kentucky, I was able to witness Rob Zombie’s “antics” first-hand by this rather “grainy” cell pic below.
And how could you not watch Halloween on Halloween? The 1978 classic launched countless nightmares and franchise of films. But no one dared to return to the series’ roots and attempt a reboot until Rob Zombie had a go at it in 2007.
Zombie had shifted his focus to filmmaking after establishing a successful career with the metal band White Zombie and as a solo artist. He already had earned a cult following as a director with his first film, House of 1000 Corpses, released in 2005.
But taking on a remake of one of the most beloved and influential horror movies of all time? That takes moxie, and Zombie has it. Here’s how:
It takes moxie to do what you love.
Whether it’s been his music or his film career, Zombie’s work has typically been met first with rejection or even outright derision. Eventually, people start to come around and his work is appreciated and even celebrated.
“It’s so odd how people judge things, so I’ve stopped trying to figure it out,” Zombie has said. “The one thing I’ve noticed is that as time goes on, is that nobody likes anything when it’s new. As soon as it’s old, it gets this weird, established gloss to it: ‘Oh, it’s a classic!’ Really? I mean, the same thing with my band, White Zombie, all the reviews for all the records were horrible! Like, ‘Worst Band Ever’-type reviews. Now that’s all the classic stuff. When I first started, everything I did was pale compared to that. Now everything I do now is pale to the early stuff…and it’s always like as long as it’s old, it’s good. They hate it now, in six months they love it, in ten years it’s a classic, so who gives a s—?”
The solution for Zombie has been to focus on doing what he loves and achieving his vision, whether people get it or not.
That was certainly true with his take on Halloween. He tried to tie up some of the loose ends that niggled him in the original and establish the backstory for the central character Michael Myers. Some appreciated his approach, while some did not. No matter – it ended up being a box office hit and reinvigorated the franchise.
Moxie is shaped on the midway.
You don’t have to grow up in the carnival to develop moxie, but it just might help. Zombie grew up in a family of traveling carnival workers. His grandfather was a carnie, and both his parents were, too. Zombie and his brother helped out around the midway. Surely the time he spent haunting the funhouse and getting an insider’s view of the sleight of hand and illusion that creates a carnival informed his aesthetic and understanding of theatre.
But that chapter of his childhood came to an end after disgruntled customers caused a riot and burned down the carnival’s tents. Violence broke out, and Zombie saw one of their fellow carnies get attacked with a hammer. That episode was enough for the family, and they left the carnival life behind and settled in Massachusetts.
Growing up in Massachusetts might have had a bit of influence on Zombie’s fascination with the darker side of human nature, too.
“Without really analyzing it, I grew up in Massachusetts, so the Salem witch trials were always something that I was around. The average kindergartner probably doesn’t know about it, except that in Massachusetts, you do, because they’ll take you on field trips to see reenactments and stuff.
Add to this backdrop an appreciation for classic horror movies, comic books and the shock rock antics of Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne, and it’s not difficult to see the influences that shaped Rob Zombie.
Good relationships take moxie.
Relationships are a theme woven throughout Zombie’s career. He’s collaborated with others with whom he shares deep, long-term relationships. For instance, he launched the band White Zombie with his then-girlfriend Sean Yseult and they continued to work and perform together even after the breakup of their relationship.
He and wife actress Shari Moon Zombie have worked together for years, and she has had roles in all his movies. She also tours with him and collaborates with him on choreography and costume design.
Sustaining a relationship is challenging enough, especially when you’re a literal rock star. But working with your spouse or significant other takes some supernatural moxie, and Zombie has it.
Here’s hoping I get to hang out with Zombie at next year’s Louder than Life event. If I do, what should I ask him?